Praise for Dutch policy on culture and public diplomacy

Former US ambassador to the Netherlands and Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy Cynthia Schneider is impressed by Dutch policy on culture and public diplomacy, she told foreign minister Uri Rosenthal at a meeting on Tuesday in The Hague.

At the meeting the minister remarked on the importance he attached to internet freedom, a theme on which the Netherlands would like to work more closely with Canada, the US and Sweden. Mr Rosenthal said that the power of culture lay in giving people a voice and contributing to freedom of expression.

Prior to the meeting, Ms Schneider gave a talk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which she urged governments and diplomats to listen to writers, filmmakers, artists and bloggers. She saw culture as an effective instrument of foreign policy.

Ms Schneider said that the United States had failed to anticipate the Arab rebellions because it was too focused on dialogue with governments, instead of keeping its ear to the ground. She urged governments not only to send their own messages through social media like Twitter and Facebook, but above all to follow Tweets and read Facebook pages.